by Tina Brown Celona
This morning we saw a mother pushing a stroller with two large children in it with a third child riding a bike with training wheels following her and two dogs on leashes on either side of the stroller. She was crossing the highway, on a crosswalk, but not at a stop sign. No one could have failed to notice them, because they were such an odd and unenviable sight. We were on our way to Longmont to get a blade for the lawnmower and some barley straw for the pond. While we were in Longmont we argued about what flowers to get for the flower boxes and then we bought some, the kind you liked and the kind I wanted. But when we got home the old flowers looked pretty and we did not want to pull them up. In any case I wanted to write poems and you had the pond to attend to and the lawn to mow. While I was writing poems you mowed the lawn right up to my chair. This was just life and had nothing to do with interests such as literature or philosophy. At this time the lawn was still green and it had not started to die mysteriously in places so that you had to call in a lawn expert. When I saw you mowing the lawn I thought affectionate things. At no time did I forget the implications of what I was doing but neither did I dread what people would say. If I dreaded anything it was what I would think of myself later. I had a couple of ideas about this and what to do about it. I could write a poem that was not a description of anything. I could do this, but would it be fun? It is hard to believe, but there are people who believe that fun is of no consequence when it comes to poetry. Many are of the opinion that poetry should not be about personality, especially if one’s personality is at all dubious, because if one does not like the personality, then one will not like the poetry. If you could find no one to read your poetry, if your own feeling, after a while, was shock and dismay, or self-loathing and inattention, would it be advisable to stop? And if one were to continue reading and having opinions about poems by other people, and if a very small number of people didn’t dislike one’s poems, though they felt uncomfortable reading them, would that be enough of a reason to go on? One could only hope that the dread of stopping would outweigh the fear of continuing. It had happened to friends who were far more dedicated to poetry than I. It could happen to you, for different reasons.
He says she is thinking, if we can just get rid of the Big One we will have the whole place (and all the mackerel) to ourselves. He says this because when he lunges at her she runs away even though he is only trying to pet her. He says, but she doesn’t get very far, because all her plans start with, “First, we take two sticks . . . .”
Spraying The Weeds
No one has sprayed the weeds today. When you came home there was a sign up—we all saw it—that said they were going to spray for weeds today. I said, who told them to spray for weeds? They ought to concentrate on removing sandstone mushrooms. You said, I told them to spray for weeds. You told them to? I said.
So today, we put up a sign that said, “Not Weeds!—Do Not Spray! Thanks!”
Why don’t people like Richard Brautigan? Because he is a smartass. Sometimes he writes poems that are funny but people do not laugh because he is a smartass. Also, often they do not agree with him that something is funny. And there is so little to his poems that there is often nothing else.
She Is Afraid
She was still surprised that no one had enjoyed the writing that she had found interesting. It still seemed interesting to her though she could see why, for others, it might not be so interesting. Naturally her life would be more interesting to her than to them. She did not see why her life would have been more interesting a few years ago, she suspected that it was not less interesting now but that the way she represented it was no longer new and startling. She also was unable to shake off the many mistakes she had made, particularly during the period when she had been overly confident and at the same time hopelessly wrong. She had also not been so tempted to repeat herself or to be extremely specific for what reason she no longer knew. She knew that in poetry it was not necessary to be so precise, and she knew that she would be misunderstood and she also knew that it would make no difference if she were. But did one not, secretly, want to be understood? And did one not have to think of reasons to act, at least provisionally? Nothing had changed, and yet experience had accumulated, knowledge, even, had resulted from analysis of experience, feelings had left residues which affected judgment and even personality. When something happened, one measured it against what had preceded it, against other evidence, against how one felt before, after, and during, and attempted to either prevent it, if it was unpleasant or painful, or to repeat it, if it were pleasurable and rewarding. She accepted responsibility, as she had not accepted it until recently, for the quality of life she was experiencing. She had ceased to think of herself as an invalid but many things terrified her including speaking to people who did not know her and whom she did not know well, which was almost everybody. Even worse, perhaps, she had begun to believe that given certain conditions one would come to write in a certain way, and that this was more or less involuntary. Still—people behaved unpredictably, as she had observed in the evenings, when they passed by, choosing either the sidewalk or the road. There were those who enjoyed the flowers, and those who enjoyed them but were afraid of bees. There were those who felt that the stems brushing their knees was unpleasant and there were those who exclaimed and awkward moments when she did not know what to say. There were people who passed by once and spoke, but who did not speak again. There were people who spoke as if they had never spoken before, when she remembered them clearly. She had said, to someone, not one of her neighbors, that she had admired a writer, and had wished she had not expressed herself in the way she had, because she no longer felt she could authentically express herself in any other way. Later she regretted her confession, but she accepted it as inevitable. She had come to believe all her mistakes were inevitable, but still regretted them. There was hardly anything she was not morbidly afraid of.
On Saturday we went to Diamond Lake. We are going there again next weekend. Tonight we are going to a poetry reading. Normally you do not like to go to poetry readings but you love me so you are going even though poetry does not usually interest you. I am trying to get you interested in poetry, but even if you never became interested it wouldn’t matter. Whereas at one time in my life I needed help writing poems now I can do it on my own. In fact, the way you help me write poems is by taking me away from poetry. We go up to the mountains and we do not think about poetry or how to keep writing it. We look at the krummholz and we talk about the wildflowers and it doesn’t matter whether I have published anything in a long time. I look at your face and smell the pine trees and look for wood chickens. I do not think about how my poems are always in prose and I do not dwell on how I am mostly alone or on aesthetics. Across the street there are girls on the roof of the elementary school and hummingbirds are chasing each other and knocking apples off the tree. I tell you not to worry, everything is fine. Things are getting better, but not for the ladybug that landed on my leg. While I was looking him up I accidentally squished him with the edge of my computer. That was not very peaceful, you say.